RSPCA appeal over Kent horse 'crisis'
The RSPCA was alerted to more horses in distress in Kent than anywhere else in England last year, it has revealed.
The charity said it was a growing problem across the South East, with more than 9,500 horses rescued last year in Kent, Sussex and Surrey.
The organisation took 22,000 calls about neglected horses in England and Wales, in what it has described as a national crisis.
It has now started an urgent appeal to find homes for rescued horses.
Horses in Kent prompted the second highest number of complaints to the RSPCA, after West Yorkshire, but with a greater number of horses affected.
Last year, the RSPCA received 1,242 calls about horses in Kent, concerning 4,326 animals.
'Just given up'
The charity has suggested that as the cost of horses falls and the price of keeping them increases, so too does the number that are left to suffer or die.
It said the main reasons for horses being taken into care were injuries, starvation, untreated wounds and irresponsible ownership.
Claudia Corner, equine re-homing officer at the RSPCA, said: "It is very bad this year. We have had a lot of horses coming out of the winter that have been found neglected.
"There are a lot of horses being fly-grazed, being left on land that is too small for them, too many horses for too small an area, and not being given enough food or hay."
Chris Johns, of the Happy Endings Rescue group, added: "I've never seen so many horses in such a poor condition, whether they are worm-riddled or purely emaciated, their bodies just go into shutdown. And it doesn't matter what we do, they just have given up."
The RSPCA said the number of horses in its care now exceeded 600.